Paul Gauguin Cruises was recently voted the “#1 Cruise Line for Honeymooners” in BRIDES Magazine’s 2017 Honeymoon Awards. And what is more romantic than sailing to idyllic islands in the South Pacific on your honeymoon? We had the pleasure of welcoming newlyweds Heidi and Michael Grio from Seattle aboard the m/s Paul Gauguin for their honeymoon. These high-school sweethearts, who have been together for the past 15 years, were married in April. When they are not attending Seattle Seahawks games, they are traveling, boating, and spending time with their dog Ellie. Read about their recommendations and tips from their honeymoon.
What made you decide on the Fiji, Tonga, Cook & Society Islands itinerary for your honeymoon?
We have loved our journey together so far, and we were so thrilled to spend our honeymoon on The Gauguin! We like the sun and wanted to do something a little more adventurous than Hawaii or the Caribbean. We loved this itinerary because, well, how else would we be able to visit all these exotic destinations seamlessly in one trip? Waking up to a new island every day, without the hassle of air travel, hauling luggage, etc., was just so appealing. In general, we heard great things about the people and culture in this area of the world, which made it an easy decision. The destination is easy to love, and we felt the friendliness of the people on every island. We wouldn't have it any other way. It was the best way to kick off our new chapter in life together as husband and wife. Thank you for making our experience so amazing! We hope to make it back on another Paul Gauguin Cruise sooner than later!
Did you have a favorite island on the itinerary?
For sheer beauty, nothing beats the Cook Islands. A little bit of everything: great snorkeling, pristine beaches, and crystal-clear water. We did fall in love with Savusavu in Fiji as well. This is where the rich culture really shines. On the Nukubalavu Village Tour in Savusavu, we were welcomed by a charming group of people who so openly let us into their homes and hearts. The family atmosphere with the stunning island backdrop was indescribable.
What was your favorite shore excursion or island activity?
Swimming with sharks and stingrays in Bora Bora was our favorite shore excursion. What an incredible experience to share the water with such unique sea life! No barriers and in their natural habitat.
What was your favorite onboard activity?
On-deck sail-away parties listening to the Santa Rosa band was our favorite way to begin the evenings aboard The Gauguin. We were blessed to watch some of the most epic sunsets during these events. Cold drinks, great music, and a gorgeous sunset—what more could you ask for? If you did ask for anything, the ship’s staff was there with a smile.
What was your favorite culinary experience during your honeymoon?
Fresh-squeezed juice every morning at La Palette was our favorite ritual. Ryan, "our juice guy" aboard The Gauguin, custom-made wellness drinks for us every morning from fresh vegetables and fruits. We would wake up, grab a newspaper, and head up to the bar, and he would have the drinks ready for us. Just because you're on vacation doesn't mean you should neglect your nutrition, and Ryan kept us accountable for that.
Have you been to these islands before? If not, how did they live up to your expectations?
This was our first time to the islands, and they more than exceeded our expectations. We were lucky enough to have great weather throughout our stay, which really magnifies the beauty of these islands. You hear about the culture, but never could we have imagined how kind and welcoming the locals are. The beaches and blue water aside, the people are what make these islands special.
Did you extend your stay in a resort before or after your cruise? If so, where did you stay?
Yes, we felt we would need a couple days after the cruise to get our land legs back, so we stayed in Fiji at the Tokoriki Island Resort. I can't rave enough about this place. All bures (rooms) have their own pool, the staff is incredible, the food was top notch, and the views are amazing. A “must-do” is the Tepanyaki dinner—a Japanese-style dinner in Fiji. This is food entertainment at its finest and truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
All you really need is a carry-on bag stocked with beachwear, shorts, and a couple of dressier options for the evenings. Hats and sunscreen, of course! And, for the Nukubalavu Village Tour, make sure you have some conservative clothing options that are breathable. Multi-purpose shoes—that can go from walking on roads to water and sand—are a must. We both brought Native brand slip-on shoes that are made for this purpose and are a more fashionable alternative to water socks. Also, a waterproof bag really comes in handy for wet landings.
Any suggestions for future honeymooners?
Enjoy every minute of it. Take lots of pictures, but don't forget to seize the moment mentally. Sea days are great days to relax and recover. Try every restaurant aboard the ship. Get to know the staff aboard The Gauguin—they are incredible people and really made our trip.
Honeymooners receive a complimentary honeymoon package when sailing with Paul Gauguin Cruises, which includes a special Polynesian blessing ceremony aboard the ship performed by Les Gauguines and Les Gauguins and hosted by the Cruise Director, an in-stateroom celebratory bottle of Champagne, one 8" x 10" photo portrait, and an exclusive pillow gift. To learn more, click here.
For those celebrating a romantic special occasion, Paul Gauguin Cruises also now offers wedding ceremony and renewal of vows packages in a dreamy setting amid the turquoise lagoons and exotic islands of French Polynesia at Motu Mahana, the cruise line’s private islet off the coast of Taha’a, or at the InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa. For more information, click here.
To view our upcoming Fiji, Tonga, Cook & Society Islands voyages aboard The Gauguin, click here.